Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tank 177 - 17 December 2008

So I refueled yesterday in the anticipation of needing a full tank of
gas this morning, as I was planning on carpooling and my passenger does
not like it when I joke about her needing to get out and push if we run
out of gas.

But the carpool did not work out, so I refueled at just 395.6 miles with
10.270 gallons, making for fuel economy of 38.52. This is a bit
inflated, I expect, since the pump at the Wawa was not cooperating. It
clicked off easily when I set the little clicker to automatically fill
so I could empty the trash from my car doors. So I had to stand there
and hold the pump nozzle with a gentle squeeze so as to not make it shut
off all the time. So I stopped at the first click after 10 gallons and
called it full.

There is some neat events happening on the "time to get home" front, but
I think I addressed my speedy 2008 earlier.

Oh, well. They can't all be pearls.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trips Home in 2008: Almost 8 Minutes Faster

In addition to tracking my fuel economy, I have taken to documenting the
length of time it takes me to get home every afternoon. Since February
2007, I have tracked close to 400 trips home. It's been helpful, as
trends indicate that certain days take less time than others.

I can say with mild confidence that Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays
will take me about 52 to 54 minutes to drive home, with Tuesday being
most consistent at 52 minutes and a 9.39 standard deviation.

Thursdays and Fridays, however, tend to take at least ten minutes longer
to get home, and with more variation between times. Thursdays average
63 minutes to get home, and Fridays average 77 minutes to get home from
work, a full 25 minutes more than most Mondays and Tuesdays.

But since I have been carpooling this year, my average time has dropped
from 62.52 minutes in 2007 to 54.57 minutes this year. I think this is
because I tend to drive faster and more aggressively when driving Sandra
home, and she tends to drive a bit quicker than me just normally.

Still, it's a little depressing to realize that so far in 2008 I have
spent close to 7 full days driving home in my car.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Tank, but the Data's in the Car! How long will the car companies last?

I refueled yesterday afternoon but forgot the notepad this morning. I
got like 10.8 gallons and went about 408 miles or something. If those
numbers are close to right, my mileage was 37.78 mpg for the tank. I'll
straighten this out next week.

Meanwhile, I am waking up to hear that our congress did not approve the
"bailout" for the American car manufacturers. (on a side note, the
first "bailout" was turned into a "rescue plan" after the election, and
this remained a "bailout" the whole time. We should have seen this

Apparently, if the news is to be trusted, it failed because the
automobile workers union did not agree to a pay cut. Since the workers
did not want to accept a pay cut, it now looks like one, two, or maybe
all of the "big three" will go into bankruptcy, and many many people
will lose jobs as a result.

So my initial call is that I suppose these union workers are assuming
THEY won't get fired. But if the companies go out of business, won't
they ALL lose their jobs?

This may be a significant case study in MBA as well as psychology
courses in the future. The group had a chance to save all of themselves
if they agreed to take a pay cut. I guess each individual thought he or
she would not be a casualty during layoffs, so they voted down the pay
cuts, thinking they'd stay while the guys next to them would get the
axe. Because of this choice, now they all seem to be in danger of
losing not only their jobs, but all the support workers who make parts
and sell the cars might lose work as well.

This is just amazing. Most everyone knows times are tough and the
country is in poor economic times. But isn't a pay cut better than no
pay at all?

One can shout "fairness" at how irresponsible banks are being bailed
out-- er, "rescued"-- as the workers in the trenches are being hung out
to dry. But I think banks are canning people, and some (not all, I
imagine) CEOs are losing pay and benefits as well.

Is it fair that the automobile workers union voted not to take a pay
cut? We shall see...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Will the inauguration be televised?

There is all sorts of talk on the radio, TV and newspapers here about
how bad traffic will be, how overloaded the Metro will be, how many
people there will be, how much drinking there will be, and generally
what a mass of people there will be for the inauguration on 20 January

With all the talk of record numbers of people showing up in Washington
to "witness history," I am starting to think that this event will not be
on TV.

Why else would perhaps millions of people show up in the middle of
winter to stand in a huge expanse of grass with virtually no hope of
seeing the person they are travelling to see? I, for one, do not want
to drive, walk, stand, wait, and freeze, without the possibility of an
umbrella because they are banned from the area, just to NOT be able to
clearly see or hear as our new President gets sworn into office.

Certainly this event won't be televised. Why else would otherwise
normal people subject themselves to what potentially could be a day full
of inconvenience, waiting around, and porta-potties?

It's a shame, really. I'd rather have seen close-up pictures on the TV
of the events. That way I'd be able to watch the parade, see the
motorcade, see the ceremony, watch (and clearly hear) Obama's first
speech as President, and also see coverage of all the balls and gala
parties that evening. But apparently none of this will be televised.

I guess I'll have to hear the stories of people who go there. I can
hear them now: "I was standing there on the mall for HOURS, and then my
view of the big screed was blocked by some woman with a big hat, and I
couldn't hear anything Obama said on the loudspeakers because everyone
was talking and cheering, and then someone peed right next to me, and
then it took me, no lie, six more hours just to get back to where I
parked my car!?

I sure hope some TV channel gets permission to send at least one camera
there so it can be broadcast on TV. I bet that channel that shows the
inauguration would get a LOT of people watching it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I am Sorry, but...

I have just about had my fill of Oprah Winfrey.

First, she was a happy story of a woman who pulled herself up by her own
bootstraps and became a success. Then she became an even bigger success
and her show developed an enormous following.

People say her book club has helped improve the education and literacy
of lots of people as well.

But recently I have been observing that it's either her way or no way.
Like she's secretly proclaimed herself to be better than everyone else
and that the whole world should just fall down and cheer her every move
and comment. I am sorry, but I do not see her as the Queen of the

I think it's great that Obama was elected President and all, but the day
after the election, she comes out with a big victory party on her TV
show? That was a bit over the top. Her enthusiasm over the election of
Obama made me feel like she has no respect for the current President.
This might be wrong, but I don't remember her having a post-election
breakdown at any other time in the past.

And today she's apparently having a "Mary Tyler Moore Reunion" on her
show, and the promo is a great shot of her leading a group hug. I don't
know what other members of the Mary Tyler Moore show will be there,
because it was a tearful Oprah in the middle of the shot. If I remember
correctly, Oprah was not part of that show, so I don't see why she ought
to be the center of a reunion hug like that.

And what's with her picture on each and every cover of her "O" magazine?

I am on Oprah Overload.

Please, I am sure there are doctors, chefs, and psychotherapists out
there that are just as good, if not better, as those people she trots
out on her show, but people are falling over themselves to hear the
thoughts from these people who Oprah has declared the best for us.

Yes, Oprah Winfrey has a wildly successful show. No, she should not use
that platform to push all her thoughts and ideas upon us. And no, she
should not rewrite herself into history as a cast member of the Mary
Tyler Moore Show.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tank 175 - 1 December 2008

With gas prices going back down, I have noticed the re-emergence of SUVs
and large pickup trucks back on the road.

How quickly we forget.

I am encouraged that our new President is still talking about the
importance of higher fuel economy standards and wise usage of the
resources we have. He said that gas prices have gone down, but they
will go up again and when that happens we had better be better prepared
for it. So at least we all can be happy that Obama is planning for this

Anyway, this last tank served me with 36.52 miles per gallon. I
refueled at just 368.4 miles on the tank, as it was my turn to drive the
carpool and S. doesn't like it when I joke about her needing to get out
and push if I run out of gas.

I'm pretty sure I called this tank as going to have lower fuel economy
because my last tank was so high-- I am growing more certain that
different pumps at different gas stations shut off at different levels
of full.

Luckily, I maintain a running 5-tank fuel economy average to help offset
this type of error. And also my yearly averages will mitigate this
pumping error as well.

I am a little sad that my fuel economy average for this year is lower
than last year's average, but I must be happy because thanks to my
carpooling, I have driven about 1,200 fewer miles and refueled fewer
times as well. So the impact of the "historical high gas prices" has
been reduced thanks to the carpool.